KINGS OF ARMENIA. Uncertain king, circa 2nd century BC. Chalkous (Bronze, 12 mm, 1.38 g, 11 h). Head of an uncertain king to left, wearing bashlyk tied with a diadem; around, uncertain Aramaic legend. Rev. Draped bust of an uncertain queen to right. Kovacs -. Unpublished and unique. An exciting and mysterious coin, sharply struck and with a very attractive dark patina. About extremely fine.
From an important collection of Armenian coins.
This hitherto unpublished coin is a real enigma: it shows, on the obverse, an Armenian king wearing a bashlyk, and on the reverse a female who is presumably his queen. Unfortunately, the Aramaic legend appears to be blundered and we are thus left to compare the piece to the known Armenian coinage. The size, fabric and style of the bashlyk place it to the 2nd century BC and certainly discount later queens such as Erato and Iotape. Kovacs knew of only one king who struck coins with a female portrait on the reverse in the 2nd century BC: this is Mithradates I, King of Sophene, whose bashlyk and thin portrait, however, bear little resemblance to the king on our coin. Furthermore, the surprisingly charming female portrait on the reverse looks nothing like the rather clumsy portrait of Mithradates' wife on Kovacs 30. Alternatively, the king on our coin could be Mithradates the Satrap, whose portrait on the wonderful gold brooch in this catalogue (lot 358 above) looks surprisingly similar, but the bashlyk on Mithradates' coins (lots 359 and 360 above) differs somewhat from that on our coin, and furthermore, this piece lacks the well readable legends typical of his coinage. It is therefore best to ascribe our coin to an uncertain Armenian king (and his queen) for the time being until further research sheds more light on the issue.